Author Topic: Franz Schubert  (Read 54476 times)

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Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #20 on: April 26, 2008, 08:16:17 PM »
Schubert could churn out large-scale works along with the best of them.  0:)  In addition to the Great C Major Symphony, he wrote six compelling large-scale masses, an oratorio, and over a dozen operas ( :o ) ....... all within his short lifetime.  0:)  They are not as well known as his small-scale stuff, but he certainly could master large-scale materials ..........

My guess is that he simply never got around to the concerto form/genre ..........  :'(

Or more likely, the concerto was alien to his more introspective temperament. (Which doesn't mean Schubert's works are not difficult to play, at least for pianists - he throws such fatiguing octave passages at the pianist as the ending of the first movement of the Wanderer, and there is no greater punishment for the pianist's right wrist than the accompaniment to Erlkoenig.)

As for subtlety, I don't consider small-scale forms necessarily more subtler than large forms. There's very little in terms of subtlety that can match, for example, Beethoven's treatment of the Neapolitan in the 40-minute-long C# minor quartet, op. 131. But an important point is that, dying at the age of 31, Schubert's output consists in large part of juvenalia. Only towards the end of his short life was he producing expansive instrumental forms like the C major quintet, last three piano sonatas and the unfinished C major (the "Relique"), last four string quartets, and the B minor and C major symphonies. And in this respect he was starting to go in a different direction than that taken by Beethoven. Think of the phantasmagoric middle passage of the slow movement of the late A major piano sonata, or the highly lyrical and expansive opening to the Bb major sonata. (I happen to think that the B minor symphony - as well as the Relique sonata - was left incomplete because Schubert couldn't see his way towards constructing an appropriate finale for either. Certainly the Brian Newbold conclusion for the Unfinished solves nothing.) No way of knowing obviously where he would have gone had he lived as many years (57) as LvB, but what we consider "late" Schubert might well have been relatively early and immature compared to what might have happened.
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Offline Holden

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #21 on: April 27, 2008, 01:43:16 AM »
Will you people get your hands off Bach?

The problem Schubert is that once you get over his melodies (which will happen eventually), there's nothing really to go back to, where as i could probably listen to Bach to the end of infinity and not get bored with him.

I can't agree here. For example, take the D960 sonata and it's sublime slow movement which has very sparse melody but is just so inspiring. I'll never get over Schubert's melodies or the unique sonorities in his music, yet his ability to craft a larger scale work is defintely a plus. Viola D786 is a 15 minute song that never loses its appeal throughout. The Great C major symphony is also exceptionaly well constructed.
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Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #22 on: April 27, 2008, 05:05:03 AM »
Will you people get your hands off Bach?

The problem Schubert is that once you get over his melodies (which will happen eventually), there's nothing really to go back to, where as i could probably listen to Bach to the end of infinity and not get bored with him.

Agreed. Schubert = catchy and seductive tunes in almost endless sequence. And when you dive into his music, you are soon aware of his shallowness. But he wrote some of the best tunes ever written.
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Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #23 on: April 27, 2008, 05:08:10 AM »
Agreed. Schubert = catchy and seductive tunes in almost endless sequence. And when you dive into his music, you are soon aware of his shallowness. But he wrote some of the best tunes ever written.

But I am not aware of his shallowness. What shallowness are you talking about?
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Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #24 on: April 27, 2008, 05:11:35 AM »
No way of knowing obviously where he would have gone had he lived as many years (57) as LvB, but what we consider "late" Schubert might well have been relatively early and immature compared to what might have happened.

Sure, but his youthful works do not get better by thinking of what we are missing.
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Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #25 on: April 27, 2008, 05:22:52 AM »
But I am not aware of his shallowness. What shallowness are you talking about?

In my opinion his movements in sonata form e.g. generally lacks contrast and drama. As you know, the point of the sonata form as designed by its inventors is the contrast (in the exposition) and the "fight" (in the development section) between the first and second theme. You find this in the music of Haydn, Beethoven - even Mozart, and many others, but very seldom in the music of Schubert. This is why I find quite a lot of his works tame. They are indeed often very beautiful, and this is why I sometimes listen to his music.
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Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #26 on: April 27, 2008, 05:35:46 AM »
Sure, but his youthful works do not get better by thinking of what we are missing.

Of course not. But you (and M. des Prez) seem to see nothing in him than a clever purveyor of catchy tunes. I would think a study of the first movement of the Unfinished Symphony (there was an excellent discussion of this symphony in the archives of this site, led by John Q. Public), or the two completed movements of the Relique sonata, or the passage from the A major sonata I've appended, should be enough to refute that notion.

Responding to your last post, I think there's no lack of contrast and drama in the works I've enumerated. But Schubert seemed to be finding his way also towards a more expansive, lyric, concept of sonata form than is found in Beethoven. I don't dispute for a minute that there's a lot of ordinary stuff in the earlier quartets and sonatas - though he could produce a very fine imitation of Mozart in something like the 5th symphony. I would even go so far as to say the melodic content of much of the earlier music is "tame" as well (the finale of the D major piano sonata is so trite as to drive me crazy). But the first movement of the unfinished C major sonata, which I consider one of his greatest achievements, shows that he was entirely capable of absorbing the language of Beethovenian development as well.
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Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #27 on: April 27, 2008, 08:22:56 AM »
In my opinion his movements in sonata form e.g. generally lacks contrast and drama. As you know, the point of the sonata form as designed by its inventors is the contrast (in the exposition) and the "fight" (in the development section) between the first and second theme. You find this in the music of Haydn, Beethoven - even Mozart, and many others, but very seldom in the music of Schubert. This is why I find quite a lot of his works tame. They are indeed often very beautiful, and this is why I sometimes listen to his music.

I think poor Schubert deserves more credit than that. He need not live up to a Beethoven to be truly original.

As has been noted Schubert's music is proto-romantic and as such leaves behind classical-era conventions. So referencing him to those who came before him does him an injustice.

When I listen to Schubert I'm more aware of his forward-thinking innovations, like taking the focus off of 'sectionalism' (contrasting themes) and the placing it more on developing an inner dialog between voices. He literally runs rampant with this interplay and if you want contrasts it's here where it'll knock your socks off!

I'll admit I didn't recognize this right away in Schubert since so many performers on disc seem to be more up for 'mood Schubert' - which emphasizes prettifying his music. But don't get caught in that trap. Schubert is far more than a string of cutsie bon-bons.



Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline Josquin des Prez

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #28 on: April 27, 2008, 09:32:35 AM »
But you (and M. des Prez) seem to see nothing in him than a clever purveyor of catchy tunes.

Well, saying that he wrote nothing but "catchy tunes" is needlessly dismissive. I think his tunes are among the very finest ever written. That's a considerable achievement in it self and enough to place him on the higher tier of composers. The fact remains that beyond his incredible inspiration there isn't much in terms of formal invention and craftsmanships, i mean, not when compared to the likes of Bach. This goes beyond his use of form, which is actually excellent, at least in the opening movements.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2008, 01:22:58 PM by Josquin des Prez »

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #29 on: April 27, 2008, 09:50:10 AM »
Well, saying that he wrote nothing but "catchy tunes" is needlessly dismissive. I think his tunes are among the very finest every written. That's a considerable achievement in it self and enough to place him on the higher tier of composers. The fact remains that beyond his incredible inspiration there isn't much in terms of formal invention and craftsmanships, i mean, not when compared to the likes of Bach. This goes beyond his use of form, which is actually excellent, at least in the opening movements.

Quote from JdP: "The problem Schubert is that once you get over his melodies (which will happen eventually), there's nothing really to go back to."

QED. How much more dismissive can you get?
« Last Edit: April 27, 2008, 09:58:43 AM by Sforzando »
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Offline jochanaan

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #30 on: April 27, 2008, 10:33:42 AM »
In my opinion his movements in sonata form e.g. generally lacks contrast and drama. As you know, the point of the sonata form as designed by its inventors is the contrast (in the exposition) and the "fight" (in the development section) between the first and second theme...
But music can take on forms never envisioned by its developers--nor is it merely a "competition" between various elements.  There's no reason the sonata-allegro form can't be used for "peaceful purposes." :)  Schubert's "lack of drama" (I speak in a comparative sense; really, there's plenty of drama, as others point out) is a fine foil to Beethoven's massive dramas.

That's the great thing about "our" music: there's something for everyone.  If only everyone would listen! :'(
« Last Edit: April 27, 2008, 10:35:54 AM by jochanaan »
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Offline Josquin des Prez

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #31 on: April 27, 2008, 10:51:48 AM »
Quote from JdP: "The problem Schubert is that once you get over his melodies (which will happen eventually), there's nothing really to go back to."

QED. How much more dismissive can you get?

Well, ok, but i was trying to make a point there. Schubert is one of those composers that i can only listen to after extended breath of times because i have to make sure i'm in the best possible mood to enjoy his melodic and emotional content to it's fullest. If i'm not in the correct mood, the experience is generally not entirely satisfactory. This may be in part because of my depression, which makes everything rather low hum, including music, and in part because i've listened to those works tens of times already, but the fact is Schubert seems to rely on inspiration for the most part and it's something that i cannot ignore. By contrast, i can listen to Bach or Mozart on a daily basis and never get tired of it.


Offline jochanaan

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #32 on: April 27, 2008, 10:55:15 AM »
Well, ok, but i was trying to make a point there. Schubert is one of those composers that i can only listen to after extended breath of times because i have to make sure i'm in the best possible mood to enjoy his melodic and emotional content to it's fullest. If i'm not in the correct mood, the experience is generally not entirely satisfactory. This may be in part because of my depression, which makes everything rather low hum, including music, and in part because i've listened to those works tens of times already, but the fact is Schubert seems to rely on inspiration for the most part and it's something that i cannot ignore. By contrast, i can listen to Bach or Mozart on a daily basis and never get tired of it.


I don't understand this.  I'm depressive too, but Schubert and other great music always puts me in "the right mood"! :D
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Offline BachQ

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #33 on: April 27, 2008, 11:58:24 AM »
There's no reason the sonata-allegro form can't be used for "peaceful purposes." :) 

 :D

But Schubert seemed to be finding his way also towards a more expansive, lyric, concept of sonata form than is found in Beethoven.

Yes.  And let's not forget that Schubert's organic, seamless mastery of VARIATION is on par with LvB and Mozart.


Offline Josquin des Prez

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #34 on: April 27, 2008, 12:01:57 PM »
I don't understand this.  I'm depressive too, but Schubert and other great music always puts me in "the right mood"! :D

I was depressive too until i discovered what depression really is:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anhedonia

Offline Holden

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #35 on: April 27, 2008, 12:02:44 PM »
In my opinion his movements in sonata form e.g. generally lacks contrast and drama. As you know, the point of the sonata form as designed by its inventors is the contrast (in the exposition) and the "fight" (in the development section) between the first and second theme. You find this in the music of Haydn, Beethoven - even Mozart, and many others, but very seldom in the music of Schubert. This is why I find quite a lot of his works tame. They are indeed often very beautiful, and this is why I sometimes listen to his music.

So I take it you're not that impressed with Chopin either?                        
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Holden

Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #36 on: April 27, 2008, 01:01:52 PM »
When I listen to Schubert I'm more aware of his forward-thinking innovations, like taking the focus off of 'sectionalism' (contrasting themes) and the placing it more on developing an inner dialog between voices. He literally runs rampant with this interplay and if you want contrasts it's here where it'll knock your socks off!

Your point of view seems immediately more fruitful than most I have seen until now. I will bear your words in mind.





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Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #37 on: April 27, 2008, 01:48:52 PM »
So I take it you're not that impressed with Chopin either?                        

No, you are wrong. Some years ago I decided to investigate Chopin thoroughly. I had always been fascinated by his extraordinary idiomatic piano writing, so I spent about three months listening exclusively to Chopin, scores in hand. Too much repetition gradually caused my interest in his seductive melodies to fade considerably, and I reached some sort of saturation point, but fortunately my stubbornness prompted me to continue my listening, and of course I overcame the deadlock and found out, that there is much more in his music than melting melodies in elegant coating, and as you now may guess, I ended up liking especially the Preludes, the Etudes and the Nocturnes very much, even if I - in the end - prefer music from another age. But I understand easily, why some people may harbour a strong passion for Chopin. I have not reached to that point with Schubert yet.
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Offline jochanaan

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #38 on: April 27, 2008, 02:30:47 PM »
I was depressive too until i discovered what depression really is:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anhedonia
Ah.  That's one form of depression, but not the form I've got.  I get plenty of pleasure from normally pleasurable things.  But all this talk about depression is making me sad; let's get back to Schubert's music--definitely a "normally pleasurable thing" for me! ;D
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lukeottevanger

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #39 on: April 27, 2008, 02:37:41 PM »
But all this talk about depression is making me sad; let's get back to Schubert's music

Yes indeed - how about that Winterreise, huh?  >:D

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